In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Christians are struggling to figure out what the best move is to continue in the Great Commission and the proclamation of Jesus Christ. Why do we preach the gospel? Because it brings God infinite glory to have His Son’s name proclaimed among the nations and the Church has been commissioned to take the gospel to the furthest reaches of the Earth to see that happen.
But in the midst of the crisis, churches have shut their doors and missionaries have come home. And while some — very few — Christians have the courage to continue to go out and proclaim Christ in this lost and dark world during this time, those who do are being bullied, singled out, and even arrested.
Some argue that Christians who aren’t willing to confine themselves to their homes and choose to continue to go out into the world are doing so because they’re placing their “constitutional rights” over and above “loving their neighbor.” That’s simply not the case. Can’t it be considered that some of these people actually care about seeing the gospel go forth?
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.Romans 10:14-17
Proclaiming Christ and taking the gospel to the world is the primary function of the Church. It is the sole reason we exist as a body in this world. If we were not given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-21), he could have just raptured His people from the world and been done with it. But he didn’t. He left us here for a purpose — to bring Him glory, to make His Son known.
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Right now, most churches in America have shuttered and are hiding their lamps under their beds.
No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.Luke 8:16
But worse, some of these churches have abandoned this calling altogether and, like the Church of Ephesus, have turned to social justice instead. For example, Redeemer Church — formerly pastored and founded by Tim Keller — announced that “Our first priority is the health and safety of all, particularly the most vulnerable who are most at risk for medical complications.”
“Health and safety” is not the Church’s first priority. Let’s be clear, this pandemic and the serious health consequences should be taken seriously and every effort should be made to follow the guidelines set by the medical experts to keep it at bay. But the Church’s first priority is to proclaim Christ despite health and safety risks while making every effort to be safe in doing so.
The Church should never place others in physical danger. But the Church should be figuring out how we can send the gospel out into the world to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ and salvation for all who will repent and believe even if it means we have to send missionaries out in Hazmat suits to do so. Why? Because that is our first priority.